Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

02 July 2012

Reading the Bible in chronological order - discovery # 1

I don't know that I have ever really thought too hard about where the book of Job fits into the scheme of biblical things. I usually just get to Job, take a breath and dive in. It's there in the midst of the wisdom literature with a timeless message and it just IS. But when was Job knocking about the place?

Well, I was not three days into the chronological read through of the Bible, eleven chapters of Genesis under my belt, and there I was being redirected to Job, just before Abraham enters stage left at chapter twelve. Interesting.

Turns out there are at least a couple of theories as to the dating of Job. The theory that places him around the time of Abraham rests particularly on the fact that in chapter one, amidst Job's calamities, his camels were carried off by a raiding party from the Chaldeans (Job 1:17). Abraham was from Ur of the Chaldeans. And the area of Chaldea later became known as Babylonia - important around the time of the exile. So the suggestion is that Job was around the time when Chaldea was Chaldea, not Babylon.

Another theory has Job around the time of the exile. He is mentioned in Ezekiel 14:12-14.

The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its men and their animals, even if these three men - Noah, Daniel and Job - were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness," declares the Sovereign Lord.

Curious that Job is mentioned last in that list – and so the question is, does the order have any significance? And it has been said that whoever wrote Job shows a great knowledge of distant lands and is therefore unlikely to have been around any time before Solomon.

The bottom line is that we don't really know. There are a few clues - and they are just too few. But the folk who constructed the reading plan I am using had to put him somewhere, so on this occasion they opted for the association with Abraham rather than Ezekiel. And I'm glad they did because it made me sit up, pay attention and read Job with fresh eyes. 

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